Drivers head to Chili Bowl

Several World of Outlaws Competitors Head to Chili Bowl Midget Nationals Concord, NC--Jan. 8, 2007-- With the World of Outlaws season opener, The 36th Annual DIRTcar National Presented By Mopar Speedshop at Volusia Speedway Park just around the...

Several World of Outlaws Competitors Head to Chili Bowl Midget Nationals

Concord, NC--Jan. 8, 2007-- With the World of Outlaws season opener, The 36th Annual DIRTcar National Presented By Mopar Speedshop at Volusia Speedway Park just around the corner on February 9, several drivers, car owners, and series officials are getting a head start on their season this week as they compete in the 21st Annual Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Three-time World of Outlaws Champion Sammy Swindell leads the list of entrants heading to Tulsa. Swindell, has won the Chili Bowl a record four-times (1989, 1992, 1996, and 1998). Since the inception of the event in 1987, he has made 16 appearances at it, and has competed in 15 A-Feature events. The native of Germantown, Tennessee will take to the track on Wednesday, the first of the three qualifying nights.

Danny Lasoski, the 2001 World of Outlaws Champion will be making his 16th visit to the Tulsa Expo Center for the winter classic. Lasoski, who hails from Dover, Missouri has finished second in the Chili Bowl four-times, and has won two preliminary features on qualifying nights. Lasoski, who has won the Knoxville Nationals four times, greatly wants to add the "Golden Driller" Trophy to his mantle. He will take to the track on Wednesday night as well.

"To win the Chili Bowl you need a combination of a great car, a strong motor, a heavy foot and a whole lot of luck," said Lasoski recently. "If a guy is fortunate enough to make the A-Main on Saturday, there is very little room for error out there. A couple bad corners and you will watch as many as six guys drive right by you. The competition is that tough. I only get to race a midget once a year and this is the big one. I've been fortunate enough to win some big races in my career but this is the one that keeps slipping away from me. This race isn't about the money it's all about that trophy."

Returning to the Chili Bowl for the first time since 2001, will be Daryn Pittman. The native of Owasso, Oklahoma finished fourth in World of Outlaws Championship points in 2006, on the strength of five A-Feature and two preliminary feature wins. Pittman ran the Chili Bowl for three consecutive years beginning in 1999, but due to racing commitments in Australia the past few winters, has not been able to make it back to his home state for the event. Pittman will take to the track on Thursday's qualifying night.

"I'm just excited to go back and run an event that I grew up watching as a kid and love," said Pittman. "I'm going to be back and have a good time. When I am not on the track, I know that I get to watch some awesome racing. We've got really good equipment and a really good chance to do well. The bottom line is that it takes a lot of luck. If we get it and can take advantage of it great, if not we'll still have fun. We get to show up in front of some sponsors and family and friends that we do not get to run in front of very often."

Returning to the Chili Bowl for the second time in his career will be Randy Hannagan. The native of San Jose, who now calls Pittsboro, Indiana home, finished 11th in the World of Outlaws standings in 2006. Hannagan ran the event for the first time in 2004, as a tribute to Keith Hutton who lost his life in action at Southern Iowa Speedway in August of 2003. Hannagan will be in action during Wednesday's qualifying night, and is confident he can quickly adapt to the tight confines of the Tulsa Expo Center.

"It's quite a bit different driving a midget, especially being on the short track and being indoors," said Hannagan. "It's probably going to be more of a physical game than a racing game. It's going to be a bump and run event. There will be more bumping and banging than normal...With that many cars, luck will be a major factor. You have to be aggressive. You go there either to make the race and run good, or you go there to go to the party. I'm not a big partier, so I'm going there to race."

Justin Henderson, who finished eighth in World of Outlaws points as a rookie in 2006 on the strength of 18 Top-10 finishes, will make his second trip to the Chili Bowl. The native of Sioux Falls, South Dakota competed in the event last year, and raced his way into the second C-Main in his first appearance at the event. Henderson will take to the track on Thursday, and is excited to be behind the wheel of a midget that he and his crew have put a lot of work into making fast. Henderson, who set fast time in three World of Outlaws events in 2006, knows it takes a little bit different driving style to be fast in a midget.

"The way you enter the corner in a midget is completely different than a sprint car," said Henderson. "You have to lift to get the car to turn, and then you have to drive it around with the back of the car around the corner, versus with a sprint car where you are trying really hard not to slide. You're trying to keep it as straight as possible...Luck does play a big part. A lot depends on what you draw as your qualifier. We're fortunate to have a really good car and motor this year."

Terry McCarl, who finished ninth in World of Outlaws points in 2006, on the strength of two A-Feature and a preliminary feature win, will make his maiden voyage to compete in his first Chili Bowl this week. The native of Altoona, Iowa, who is a six-time Knoxville Raceway titlist, as well as a six-time champion at Huset's Speedway, will be in action on Friday, the final qualifying night, in his first time ever piloting a midget.

"I've watched a lot of Chili Bowl's, and you have to be fast and lucky each night," said McCarl. "It's so tight in there that it is pretty easy to get caught up in someone else's mistake or crash. You have to be pretty darn lucky. This is one of the toughest races there is to win. If you make the A-Main, then you have done a pretty good job."

Liberal, Kansas will have two drivers making appearances at the Chili Bowl. Jason Martin, who finished 13th in World of Outlaws points in 2006, after missing the first three months of the season due to injury, will make his first appearance at the event. Also, Tony Bruce Jr., who will contend for the 2007 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award with the World of Outlaws, will take to the tricky 1/4-mile indoor clay oval.

For Martin, this will be his first time at the Chili Bowl, but not his first time in a midget. He ran a handful of races in the Midwest about four years ago. He will have to wait a couple days to do battle, as he is set to compete on Friday in qualifying night action, while Bruce will compete on Wednesday night. Martin believes this past experience will help him when he hits the tracks.

"It's totally different driving a midget," said Martin. "The midgets are a lot lighter. It's hard to get the car set up to where you get good forward bite. It's a different ball game all around...All the Chili Bowl is, is luck. You have to have a good car for one thing, but you also have to have luck on your side. There are so many good cars, it is probably tougher than the Knoxville Nationals. That is why so many people want to win it so bad. It's just all about luck. You have to be good, because if you make it to the A or B-Main on Saturday night and make a mistake, you are going to get passed by four or five cars."

NASCAR star Kasey Kahne, who owns Joey Saldana's team on the World of Outlaws circuit will also be action, as he seeks his first win at the Chili Bowl. Two-time NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart, who owns the team that Paul McMahan drives for on the World of Outlaws trail, will try for a second win in the event. Stewart won the Chili Bowl in 2002.

After claiming this year's 360 OTC World of Outlaws Late Model Series title, Tim McCreadie will return to the Chili Bowl to defend his 2006 win in the event. Also in action from the 360 OTC World of Outlaws Late Model series will be Josh Richards.

Also competing will be Shane Carson, the Vice President of Race Operations for the World of Outlaws, as well as Brian Carter, the Chief Financial Officer for DIRT MotorSports.

A record 280-plus entries have been filed for the Chili Bowl which runs from January 9-13.

The 2007 World of Outlaws season opens on February 9 at Volusia Speedway Park with the 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented By Mopar Speedshop.

-credit: woo

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About this article
Series Midget , World of Outlaws
Drivers Tony Stewart , Danny Lasoski , Kasey Kahne , Sammy Swindell , Joey Saldana , Paul McMahan , Randy Hannagan , Tim McCreadie , Josh Richards , Brian Carter , Tony Bruce Jr.